New Utah’s BAC Limit –Necessary Change or Hidden Agenda

With Utah’s BAC limit lowered to a mere .05%, residents are questioning whether or not the change was necessary or if there was a hidden agenda; perhaps increased revenue for the state?

Designated driver needed for a dinner date

BAC Limit

Photo by: Mark Bonica

Beginning in December 2018, anyone enjoying a glass of wine with dinner in Utah may want to call a cab or bring along a designated driver. Utah’s new lowered BAC limit will make it almost impossible for any average person to have a single drink and still be legally safe to drive. Although most distressing vehicle accidents where alcohol is a factor involve drunk drivers with a limit well over the current BAC limit, Utah went ahead and set the bar extremely low with a BAC limit of .05%, the lowest in the nation.

Tourists beware

Speaking of the rest of the nation, those planning on vacationing in Utah need to read up on laws in Utah that differ from where they are visiting from. The big change that may catch tourists by surprise is the lowered BAC limit. The rest of the country shares a similar BAC limit of .08% which Utah had also agreed upon until recently. Now those who travel through Utah, occasionally having a drink but attempting to be good citizens by staying under the BAC limit may end up with drunk driving charges; charges that are not only being called outrageous, but downright expensive.

Money, money, money

Photo by: Ervins Strauhmanis

Photo by: Ervins Strauhmanis

While bars and restaurants throughout Utah are foreseeing the monetary repercussions the new BAC limit will have on their businesses, all Utah residents who enjoy an occasional drink may end up feeling the financial blow as well. Come December of next year, driving with a BAC of .05% or more will result in DUI charges. Driving under the influence of alcohol in Utah is a class B misdemeanor as long as no one was injured and there were no minor passengers in the car. Along with a small stint behind bars and a suspended driver’s license, driving under the influence results in a hefty fine. Although most judges will order an initial fine of $700, it usually ends up costing more than $1,300 after other fees and taxes; More than a thousand dollars for every person that is caught driving under the influence. Until recently, those drivers forking over $1,300 were the ones that pushed the “one drink with dinner” to maybe 2, 3 or more. With the new BAC limit in Utah, there is likely to be an influx of generally responsible drivers facing DUI charges and more money coming out of their pockets.

More DUI arrests equal increase revenue

Losing $1,300 can be devastating to those on a budget or for individuals and families who are living paycheck to paycheck. There are some who won’t be complaining however, and that is the state of Utah. When a hefty fine is paid, the money usually gets redistributed, with a portion going to a state treasury for programs such as: domestic violence activism; school districts; and law enforcement training. The remainder may be divvied up between the courts, cities, and other funds that are not explained entirely. In other words, the state of Utah and all its entities lose nothing with the lowered BAC limit and end up better off financially for it. The residents and business however are the ones losing.

Stay informed on BAC limit

Photo by: Nick Fisher

Photo by: Nick Fisher

It is important for Utah residents or those visiting Utah to stay informed on current laws so as not to be blindsided when they are quickly pulled over by eager to arrest officers. By limiting drinks, taking public transportation, or arranging a designated driver, it may help to keep any extra “alcohol money” from ending up in the greedy hands of the state. For more information on current and upcoming Utah laws including those regarding the new BAC limit, contact a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI charges.

Call a Cab or Phone a Friend – Do Not Drink and Drive

As the smoke from the fireworks has settled and everyone is headed home, those who have been consuming alcohol are being warned by law enforcement to call a cab or phone a friend; do not drink and drive.

Deadly day on the road

Photo by: Matthew Blouir

Photo by: Matthew Blouir

The 4th of July is a day of celebrating our nation’s independence and many do this by consuming mild to excessive amounts of alcohol while playing with dangerous fireworks. This combination itself can be hazardous, but getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking is can be fatal for the driver or others on the road.

Do Not Drink and Drive

Photo by: Michael Fötsch

Be responsible-don’t drink and drive

Residents who end up wasted at the end of the night usually know ahead of time that their plans involve drinking. Instead of making the deadly and usually impaired choice to drink and drive, party-goers are encouraged to be responsible and plan ahead. Some ways to do this include:

• Decide early on a designated driver.
• Give a sober friend the car keys.
• Have a friend or family member pick you up at a determined time.
• Have the number to a cab company on hand and enough cash for the trip home.
• Take public transportation to the party to take away any option of driving home.
• Encourage those around you to not drink and drive as well.

Increased DUI patrols

Photo by: 911 Bail Bonds Las Vegas

Photo by: 911 Bail Bonds Las Vegas

Law enforcement officials throughout Utah are warning residents that they will have an increased amount of patrols out in full force to catch drunk drivers this 4th of July. Those who drink and drive and a caught by one of the numerous DUI stops planned for the holiday can face days to weeks in jail and up to thousands of dollars in fines. Additionally, choosing to drink and drive for one night can result in a suspended license for up to 2 years. Those facing DUI charges with or without being the cause of an vehicular accident are encouraged to contact a criminal defense attorney.

Public Intoxication on Private Property

They who stroll around town belligerently drunk risk being arrested for public intoxication, but what if they are on their own private property?

Photo by: harlandspinksphoto

Photo by: harlandspinksphoto

Public intoxication defined

Utah Code 76-9-701 states “A person is guilty of [public] intoxication if the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors, to a degree that the person may endanger the person or another, in a public place or in a private place where the person unreasonably disturbs other persons.”

Loud drunks

If someone is intoxicated on their private property but is being loud enough to disturb their neighbors, they can be charged with public intoxication. What about those who wish to drink quietly in their front yard, never disturbing others? This is a gray area which a few have fought in court and won recently. There are a couple ways to help in prevent cases such as these.

Fenced private property with signs

If the general public can enter a yard or porch without having to open a gate, many law enforcement officers agree that the property therefore becomes public, since anyone can access it. If a fence with a gate is placed around the property with signs stating that it is private, that can help distinguish the property as not being public, and can make public intoxication charges harder to stick.

Keep it down

Even if a yard is fenced, a loud party with several drunken friends is likely to get the police called. By keeping things quiet, those in a party who venture outside to possibly have a smoke or to get some fresh air will be noticed less by neighbors. For those facing public intoxication while they were on their own private property, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss if the charges are just.